Category: Estate Planning
Tags: Wills, elective shares


Estate Plan Controversies

Posted on: December 18th, 2013
estate problems

Celebrities are not the only individuals whose estate plans experience controversy. The Will of any individual may be contested in court. Some estate plan provisions might cause conflicts. Controversy is particularly likely if an individual includes provisions for a spousal disinheritance or conditional inheritances based on marital status, religious beliefs, political affiliations or similar factors.

 
Incentive trusts can impose distribution conditions on beneficiaries. Trusts can be structured so that distributions are limited to areas mandated by the trust creator. Unrealistic conditions, whether in a Will or a trust, may be voided in court. Provisions that are against public policy, such as restraints on marriage, are not likely to be upheld.
 
Commonly recognized provisions include receiving a degree in higher education or maintaining employment. If the testator wants to ensure an inheritance is used for specific expenses, a trust can be customized to meet these needs. These may include, distributions for the purchase of real estate, education expenses, medical costs, and other costs that an asset protection attorney can review.
 
Disinheriting a spouse solely through a provision in a Will might conflict with your state’s spousal elective share. Assets the testator wishes to pass on to non-spousal beneficiares may be held in trust for those designated persons.
 
An item that commonly creates controveries in estate plans is a Do-It-Yourself Will. DIY estate planning is generally a poor planning move. Some DIY Will templates have provisions that automatically disinherit certain family members, and the testator may not understand they are leaving loved ones with little to no assets. Other DIY Will programs allow the testator to easily add or remove provisions, items that may contradict their intentions. Also, laws are protean. Estate plan templates are not likely updated as often as legislation changes take place, which may make them powerless or insufficient in protecting assets.
 
Are you concerned about the provisions in your trust or are you currently relying on a DIY Will? Review documents with an estate planning attorney. A few simple amendments may eliminate complicated problems for your loved ones.
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